It’s that wretched time of year again.
The killing season opens Sunday, September 1 in Taiji, heralding a six-month orgy of mass terror, suffering, kidnapping, bloodshed and slaughter inflicted upon hapless pods of whales and dolphins unlucky enough to swim near the coast of Japan’s Kuman-nada Sea.
Herded by boats and terrifying banger poles into an inlet popularized by the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove, the stressed-out animals will be separated: younger, cuter ones will be sold to theme parks to spend a life in “show business.” The rest will be impaled, speared, sliced, and gutted in the crimson-red waters, destined for East-Asian dining tables.
For ten years, Ric O’Barry, star of The Cove, and his wife Helene have journeyed to Taiji every September 1 to kick off a long, often depressing and chilly season of volunteers witnessing, monitoring, protesting, and—something that gets more difficult each year—trying to attract media attention.
After the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, most Japanese and international media have focused on urgent issues far to the north. “One journalist at AP told us she’s not coming back until we find radiation in the cove,” O’Barry says, with sadness, before boarding a Tokyo flight. “It gets harder and harder when Fukushima is really the only issue over there right now.”
If The Cove pointed a world spotlight on the slaughter, Fukushima turned it away. Now activists around the world are coming up with new, attention-grabbing events the media simply cannot ignore, including simultaneous global demonstrations, Japanese flash mobs, and a healthy heaping of rock ’n’ roll.
“Anything we can do” will be done, O’Barry vows. “We have to keep coming up with creative ways to keep the issue alive.”
That’s why on this trip, “Ric will be accompanied by Matt Sorum, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, a founding member and drummer of Guns N’ Roses and founder of the supergroup Kings of Chaos,” says Mark Palmer, Associate Director at Earth Island Institute.
“Matt is also the Musical Director for ‘Tokyo Celebrates the Dolphin,’ an upcoming event to generate much-needed positive international publicity regarding Japan’s relationship with dolphins,” Palmer continues. “The concert and celebration will be about the relationship the people of the Tokyo islands have with wild and free dolphins. The local people have adopted dolphins and given them names.” One island even made their dolphins official citizens.